An unclaimed New York Lottery ticket worth $1 million is set to expire on May 28, and the fortunate winner is unaware of their life-changing jackpot. The winning Cash4Life ticket was purchased last May in Bay Shore on Long Island. Surprisingly, many lottery winners fail to claim their prizes, with over $833 million in winnings left unclaimed since 2018, according to the New York State Gaming Commission.
As of March 31, around 5 million tickets worth $78 million remain unclaimed, including some worth $1 million or more. The largest unclaimed prize in New York Lottery history was a staggering $63 million from a MegaMillions drawing in 2002.
The state makes efforts to inform lottery players that winning tickets expire within a year. However, some argue that governments should do more to make people aware of expiration dates, as many players are unaware of them or the odds against winning. Some players may forget to check their tickets, misplace them, or not realize they can expire.
In 2021, Americans spent $98 billion on lottery tickets, with states paying out nearly $64 billion in prizes. New York Lottery, established in 1967, sells more tickets than any other state. In the fiscal year 2022, New York sold $10.36 billion in tickets.
Under New York law, up to $60 million in unclaimed prize money each year is allocated for future lottery prizes or promotional purposes. Any amount over $60 million is paid into the state treasury to the credit of the state lottery fund.
Despite the massive sum in unclaimed winnings, the New York Lottery has raised more than $78.7 billion for public education since its inception in 1967.
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